Bridge to Sweden
Newsletter no 36
December 2014



Our first trip, in summer 2000, to Halland

  We are 15 years old!
Yes, Bridge to Sweden was started in late 1999 - and in the summer 2000 we left for our first trip. It's was exciting, of course, as we traveled by train from Stockholm to Halmstad, in the province of Halland, and then explored the area by minibus, with a great group of Americans. There was Grover, whose mother had left Halland for the USA when young, and Esther who visited her newly found relatives in Rolfstorp and Grimeton. David, whose grandmother came from Skåne, joined us with wife Elaine. Arlene was with us also - her father came from Halland. Pat, from California, met up with her grandmother's relatives - and many visits have followed on both sides of the Atlantic. Sandy joined us as well. Aline helped me with all the details to make this trip successful. Thanks to all of you for all the good memories!

These guests, who came along on our first trip, are not the only ones who have joined us as we traveled to different parts of Sweden! Småland was, and is, a favorite (since so many emigrated from that province): Karen and Richard visited with us, and so did Brenda with family, and Tom and Katy. Tim and Judy went to Småland as well, and we were all invited to the beautiful estate where the family lived. This past summer Jodi with several of her relatives went to Misterhult and Kalmar, also in Småland.

Jean with family went to Öland as did Diane and her daughter Laura just a couple of months ago enjoying this beautiful and interesting island. Diane's grandmother was born there and we we lucky enough to be invited into the house where she grew up.

Janet and Gene went to Iggesund in Hälsingland, on the Baltic coast. We also went to Söderhamn with John and a big group who joined him.

Bill and Pat joined me and Elisabet to the Linköping area in Östergötland. Mary and I traveled to Västergötland and explored her ancestors' homes.

A group of us, organized by Andrea, went to Blekinge. Andrea's grandmother had emigrated from there to Salt Lake City, Utah. LaRae and Lowell visited Stjänorp in Östergötland. David and Janet came all the way from Australia to Degerfors in Värmland. Marilyn and her husband went to Dalsland with us, and also several other guests.

And there were more of you, flying into Stockholm, joining up with me and Lonny or another helper, driving or traveling by train to "your" area, visiting the little house where your ancestors lived, the church they attended, and in many, many cases met your Swedish relatives!

Many of you have continued to keep some contact with Lonny and me following our trips and now feel like real friends to us. Thanks to all of you for wonderful memeories!



What is in this newsletter?
Let's start to talk about some very important records - the birth, moving, marriage and death records. You might actually have your grandparent's moving record in a box or a drawer, or perhaps your brother or cousin has one - very useful as you'll see below. You probably don't have any birth, marriage or death records, but I can usually find these records here in Sweden, assuming that you have a date and the name of the parish of birth.

Then to Norrland, the most northerly part of Sweden. Learn about it's counties and provinces and where to find more information if your ancestor came from this beautiful part of Sweden.

Finally, the Lucia celebration just passed. Check out the video, which is included in this newsletter.



Moving records and birth, marriage and death records
When your grandmother decided to leave Sweden, she probably went to the parish priest to get a flyttningsbetyg (moving certificate). She took it with her to the new country - and you might be able to find it! This is a very useful document in that it gives you her name in Sweden (often different from the one used later on), the parish of residence, the date and place of birth,  when she emigrated, and where she planned to go.

Some Swedish words found in the flyttningsbevis:

Församling - parish

Född - born

Äktenskap - marriage

Ledig - free, available

Afflytta - move away (now spelled avflytta)

Betygar - certifies

If you have found, in the flyttningsbetyg (or somewhere else), your grandmother's date of birth and the parish where she was born, you are in luck! Then I can probably also find her birth record, so just write to me. Typically, in the birth records, you will find the child's first name (might be different from the one she used after her emigration), her dates of birth and of baptism, her parents' names, and also the names of those who served as witnesses when she was baptized. Sometimes there is also the name of the farm, which is quite helpful.

Here are a few useful words, from the birth record:

Födelsebok - birth record

Dopbok - baptism record

Dopnamn - name given when baptized

År - year

Månad - month

Dag - day

Döpt - baptized

Föräldrar - parents

Moder - mother

Fader - father

Testes, faddrar - Witnesses

oä (oäkta) - out of wedlock


Twenty years later, or more, grandma might have found her Swedish man and married, gift sig. Usually you will find these words in the marriage records:

Namn - name

Datum - date

Lysning - banns

Vigsel - marriage

Note: Lysning (banns) were held three times during church services prior to the wedding.


Your grandmother's parents probably died in Sweden, unless they also emigrated, and their death records would include words such as

Död - dead

Dödsorsak - cause of death

Dödsort - place of death

Begravd - buried



Norrland is huge, around 60 % of Sweden's surface. It's mountainous - many of its mountains are high enough so that no trees grow on them. In the southern parts the forests are vast. Lakes and rivers abound. In the northern parts the sun does not rise at all starting mid December. Only in January it appears above the horizon again. By late May the sun no longer sets and the midnight sun reigns over Norrland. Night returns again mid July.

 Did your ancestor come from Norrland? Then he probably emigrated in the early 1900s, but already in the 1860s many left Norrland at a time of severe drought and cold. The harvest was poor and many died from hunger and illness. Others moved south to survive. With industrialization jobs were created, and people stayed. Sawmills and iron mills were built and workers came from all around to work. Paper mills were built also and wood pulp was exported, an industry which remains today.

The railroad arrived in the late 1800s, extrememly important in a huge area like Norrland. The railroad between Uppsala and Gävle was first, in 1874. In 1881 it was expanded to cover the distance Gävle to Ånge, in Jämtland. Here is a railroad map from 1880. When there was another poor harvest in the early 1900s, the emigration to North America started. Many moved to Norway at first and then emigrated from Trondheim, the closest harbour which was much closer than those of Göteborg, Stockholm or Malmö. By 1894 the railroad went to Boden, in Norrbotten county. Emigration from Norrland became even easier and the population decreased in size. Today only 12 % of Swedes live in Norrland, usually along the coast. 

The Same people, the indigenous people of Sweden, live in Norrland,  but also in Finland, Norway and Russia. Some live a nomadic life, caring for their reindeer, but many now live the way most other Swedes do. The Sames continue to have strong feelings about their ethnicity and their language. Unfortunately throughout history the Same people and their culture were not respected, and even today improvements need to be made. Do you want to hear some Same music? Then enjoy the singing by Sofia Jannok, a young Same woman with a great voice.

All the Swedish counties can be found on this map.  Within Norrland there are 5 counties (län): Norrbotten, Västerbotten, Västernorrland, Jämtland and Gävleborg, the names you will need as you research your family in Norrland. To complicate things Norrland is also divided into 9 provinces (landskap): Lappland, Norrbotten, Västerbotten, Ångermanland, Medelpad, Jämtland, Härjedalen, Hälsingland and Gästrikland.

1. Norrbottens län
This is a a very big area with beautiful scenery, a wonder for anyone interested in hiking or skiing. You probably have heard of Lappland (spelled Lapland in English), located in Norrbottens län. The biggest city in Norrbotten is Luleå, located on the Baltic sea. Here you can find Gammelstadens kyrkstad, in Luleå, with small houses from the 1600s, where visitors from far away stayed during their visits to the church. Norrbotten is a prime area for experiencing the Aurora Borealis, as the sky fills with wonder.  Kiruna, the big mining city in the middle of Lappland, will be moved in a few years, because of instabilities of the ground due to the mining. Quite a project for sure....

2. Västerbottens län
Located just south of Norrbotten, reaching from the Norwegian border to the Baltic, it
includes several landskap: Västerbotten, Ångermanland and the southern part of Lappland, and just a small part of Jämtland. Learn about Västerbotten here.

3. Västernorrlands län
borders the Baltic sea, where the coastal city of Härnösand is located. This is where the regional archives are located, Riksarkivet i Härnösand. Yes, their website is in Swedish, but you can always write to them a
t main provinces that are located in this county are Medelpad and Hälsingland.

4. Jämtlands län
is mountainous, bordering on Norway and its very high mountains. It includes the provinces Jämtland and Härjedalen and also parts of Ångermanland and Hälsingland. Östersund is the biggest city. Many emigrants traveled through Jämtland, to Trondheim in Norway, leaving for North America from there.

5. Gävleborgs län
includes the provinces Gästrikland and Hälsingland. Gävle is the biggest city, wellknown for its huge straw goat, built every year at Jul - and burnt down every year - how, nobody really knows! In Hälsingland you will also find the very beautiful big farms called  Hälsingegårdar. 




Lucia - a celebration of light
Before ending this newsletter I'll send you a greeting from Göteborg (Gothenburg in English)  Here is the celebration of Lucia, from Oscar Fredrik church in Göteborg, held on December 13, just a few days ago. This church, built in 1893, was the church for those who lived in Masthugg parish and was the one your ancestors attended if they lived in Masthugget.

Lucia, the historical one, lived in Italy, but was adopted (symbolically) and increasingly loved by Swedes. The message of the returning light appealed to us up north, not surprisingly since darkness reigns in Sweden for several weeks in December and January. Your grandmother and her sisters certainly celebrated this wonderful holiday as well, dressing up in long white dresses, carrying candles and even a wreath on top of long blond hair. And singing the old songs you will hear today. 


Enjoy a God JUL (Merry Christmas) and have a Happy Year 2015!



If believe that your aunt, son, daughter, neighbor or friend might enjoy reading this newsletter, please forward it to them. Perhaps they too would like to find their Swedish family, from Norrland or Skåne, or somewhere in between.

Of course, if you no longer want to receive my newsletters, please let me know, and I'll remove your name from my list right away.


  Marie Louise Bratt

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